Michigan's chief medical executive: 'There is still time for us to keep this curve down'

Virus Outbreak Michigan
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 18:51:50-04

LANSING, Mich. — The chief medical executive of Michigan's health department said today that while the rate of COVID-19 cases is rising, "there is still time for us to keep this curve down and not to see the resurgence that we are seeing in so many other parts of the country."

"I think we can beat COVID-19," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, who's also chief deputy director for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

"I know we can. But it’s going to take everyone working together and doing their part.”

Khaldun made the statements today at a news conference on the state's response to the coronavirus.

She said the data "is not looking so good."

And while Michigan is "not in the extreme situation we were in this past spring, we really do need to get back on track and in the right direction again."

She implored residents to wear masks in public spaces, practice six-foot social distancing, not gather in large groups and wash their hands frequently.

"Do it for yourself," she said. "Do it for your loved ones. And do it for your community."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made similar points on the state's fight against COVID-19.

"Right now, the trend where we're headed is concerning," Whitmer said.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, "countless" Michiganders gathered in large groups without a mask.

She said a "couple of places" not enforcing the rules, such as the party at Diamond Lake Sandbar, can "dramatically change our numbers and our outlook as a state."

Youth, she said, will not protect people from carrying and spreading the virus.

Everyone needs to be wearing a mask, which she said reduces spread by about 70%.

"For the sake our loved ones and our economy, mask up," Whitmer said.

SEE: Michigan considering strengthening mask compliance to fight COVID-19

Whitmer said that if the state wants to return to in-person education this fall, "this trend can't continue."

"We have pushed the curve down, and we know what to do to be successful," she said.

Khaldun stressed that cases in Michigan have been increasing overall for the past three weeks.

The Grand Rapids region is reporting 45 cases per day per million people.

The Detroit, Lansing and Kalamazoo regions are reporting over 20 cases per day per million people.

The Traverse City, Jackson and Upper Peninsula regions all have under 20 cases per day per million people, but they've all seen "a steady increase in cases" for the past two to three weeks.

She also said that the Upper Peninsula is now seeing its highest rate of increase.

And while hospitalizations and deaths "are not increasing," they may in several weeks with the increased rate of cases.

"Michigan is in a different place than we were a few weeks ago," Khaldun said.

Whitmer added that, "Human behavior will determine the direction we’re headed in."